Friday, June 2, 2017
Sinclair-Tribune Merger Faces Roadblock
A federal appeals court put on hold the FCC’s plans to restore a key media ownership rule that allowed major station groups to expand through mergers and acquisitions. The ruling could prove to be a roadblock to Sinclair Broadcast Group’s pending $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media TV stations.
According to Variety, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay to the FCC’s decision in April to restore the so-called UHF discount, which has allowed major media companies to exceed restrictions on the number of stations that they can own. The court said that the stay will give them an opportunity to review the merits of the case.
By FCC regulations, no single entity can amass station holdings that reach more than 39% of the country, but for years the FCC allowed media companies to count their UHF stations as covering just 50% of their service area. That made it possible for major media companies like ION Media Networks, Univision and Tribune Media to exceed the 39% cap without having to sell off stations.
In the wake of the FCC’s decision, Sinclair Broadcast Group on May 8 announced plans to purchase Tribune, a deal that would create a broadcast colossus with more than 200 TV stations. Although the combined company would reach about 72% of the country, with the discount Sinclair would be much closer to being in compliance with the 39% ownership limit.
The UHF discount was put in place in 1985, as a nod to the fact that the signal in the UHF band was so poor compared to that of VHF stations.
Posted 4:57:00 AM